Learn more about the maps on display at the new experiential exhibition at the Library of Congress.

If you haven’t already heard, the new Library of Congress exhibition “Collecting Memories,” which is part of the David M. Rubenstein Treasures Gallery, is open to the public. Over 100 objects in many formats (including maps!) from divisions all over the Library of Congress are integrated and featured in this experiential exhibition. As soon as you enter through the large doors on the second-floor mezzanine of the Thomas Jefferson Building you are immersed in a powerful full sensory experience. Hear voice recordings and music. See and read moving images, diaries, manuscripts, photographs, art, maps, and books. Touch to feel the characteristics of each format. Sight, sound, and touch will stimulate your curiosity as you participate in this collective memory presentation. The experience—structured into eight distinct themes—will inspire you to investigate how humans preserve memory, and to consider the role of the Library in preserving collective and individual memories and historical events.

Among the themes, you will find the “Compendium of Knowledge” section that highlights how humans have collected and recorded their knowledge about the world. Some fine cartographic treasures are displayed as mementos of how different cultures saw the world at different points in time. Let’s explore three of the displayed maps.

Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg. “Byzantivm, nunc Constantinopolis” in Civitates orbis terrarum .1612–18. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

 

In chronological order, we start our trip with a 16th century city view of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) sitting on the pedestal by Flemish map maker Frans Hogenberg (1539–90) and German map maker Georg Braun (1541–1622). This stunning view serves as a record of urban social, cultural, and economic life during the 16th century in the European perspective. It is one of 546 city views recorded in the Civitates orbis terrarumthe first atlas of panoramic or bird’s-eye city views issued in six volumes.

circular map of the world with China in the center
“Ch’ŏnhado” in Ch’ŏnha chido. circa 1800. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Mounted on the wall above you will see a Korean map of the world—Ch’ŏnhado. This map is a unique and popular map of the world seen in the Korean perspective. China is in the center of the map with the Great Wall, Yellow, and Yangtze Rivers prominently depicted. It is one sheet of the Ch’ŏnha chido (Atlas of the world), a 19th century copy of the traditional Korean atlas produced in the early Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910).

map of western United States prominently depicting mountain chains
Bradford and Inskeep. “A Map of Lewis and Clark’s Track Across the Western Portion of North America from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean” in Nicholas Biddle’s History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark. 1814. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

The last stop in our journey, located just above an Icelandic legal manuscript, you will see a 19th century map of the Western United States. This map is the first printed map showing the geographical findings of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–06). This was a foldout map from the History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark (1814) by Nicholas Biddle. A Map of Lewis and Clark’s Track Across the Western Portion of North America from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean prominently shows the multitude of rugged mountain ranges of the Trans-Mississippi West that were previously unknown to the federal government.

Come experience these maps and immerse yourself in this multi-format sensory journey on display at the Library of Congress!

Source: https://blogs.loc.gov/maps/2024/06/maps-in-collecting-memories/

Experiencing Maps in “Collecting Memories”